Paralegal Two Year Program

FEDERAL DEFENDERS OF NEW YORK – Eastern District of New York, Two-Year Paralegal Program

The Federal Defenders of New York vigorously defends persons charged with federal crimes who cannot afford to hire an attorney. We are an independent, non-profit organization with lawyers practicing in the federal courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York (SDNY / EDNY), with offices located in Manhattan and White Plains (SDNY), and Brooklyn and Central Islip (EDNY). Our mission is straightforward: although we provide our services free of cost, our clients should receive the finest legal representation available at any price.

We subscribe to a client-centered approach to legal representation. We listen to our clients, pay close attention to their individual needs, and work closely in teams of paralegals, investigators, social workers, and attorneys to address all aspects of a client’s circumstances. We fight for our clients to obtain the best result possible.

Our staff works together to provide comprehensive representation to our clients. We conduct thorough investigations, diligently counsel and advise clients about their options, and fight on their behalf through motion practice and at trial. If our clients are convicted, we advocate at sentencing by developing and presenting a full picture of their lives, not one defined exclusively by their court-involvement. We also represent our clients on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals and, if possible, to the United States Supreme Court.

Federal Defenders is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and we are committed to creating a work environment that fosters inclusion and belonging for all employees.

We are currently accepting applications for paralegals in our Brooklyn office.

**In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all offices of the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc. are closed until further notice; our staff is primarily working remotely during this time. However, there are times when staff (including paralegals) may need to be in person at the office, visit detention facilities, or to be in the courthouse (e.g., to assist at a hearing or trial). In order to protect staff and clients who may need to be in the office in person, in consultation with an expert epidemiologist, we have put stringent limits on the number of people who may be in the office at any one time, we require masks to be worn at all times, and the office is cleaned daily. **

Position Description:

The Federal Defenders of New York is hiring recent college graduates or early career professionals for its unique two-year paralegal program in its Brooklyn office. The job is an excellent opportunity to gain substantive exposure to criminal law and direct service work prior to law school or graduate studies.


Our paralegals work closely with trial attorneys and their clients on every step of federal criminal cases, from arrest to acquittal or sentencing. Paralegals in the Brooklyn office typically work on approximately 60 – 80 cases (subject to increase according to office needs) and work with most of the office’s 15 trial attorneys at a given time.

Paralegals have a wide scope of responsibilities, ranging from administrative tasks to document review to regular direct client support to trial support. Paralegals conduct client interviews, help prepare bail packages, speak to witnesses, review evidence, identify experts, and collect and review mitigation materials from clients, their families, hospitals, schools, and treatment programs.

When the office is not working remotely and the courts are fully operational, paralegals also often travel beyond the office. They regularly go to the courthouse for court appearances, to the visiting rooms of federal jails to meet with clients, or into the field to assist with investigations. Our paralegals also have the extraordinary opportunity to sit at counsel table at trials and hearings on a regular basis. A crucial aspect of the position is collaboration with multiple members of our office including attorneys, social workers, investigators, and support staff.


Ideal candidates are self-motivated, independent workers with outstanding time management and organizational skills. Paralegals also need to be highly detail-oriented. A commitment to social justice is essential, as is the ability to handle the high stakes and intense emotions inherent in defending people charged with serious crimes.

Paralegals should be proficient in Word and Excel and have at least a basic competency in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat as well as a demonstrable ability to problem solve and acquire new technical skills quickly. Paralegals must be able to spend large amounts of time on the phone and on the computer, particularly while working remotely.

Paralegals are expected to be professional and courteous representatives of our office to clients, their families, and other actors in the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, correctional officers, court security officers, judges, treatment providers, and so on. Experience working one-on-one with clients is highly desirable, though not necessary.

In light of the difficult circumstances in which our clients and their families find themselves and the fast-paced work environment, we seek candidates with an understanding of the emotional nature of the work, flexibility and a sense of humor, as well as an appreciation of the obstacles faced by our indigent clients, including issues related to their marginalization on the basis of race and ethnicity, class, ability, and immigration status.

We are seeking applicants from diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Paralegals will be expected to reside in the NY metro area by the start of their employment, regardless of our office’s remote work status.

Fluency in Spanish is highly desired. Other, non-English language competencies are also desired.

Salary and Work Hours:

$50,672.77 plus benefits including medical

Regularly work 40+ hours per week, 9am – 5pm EST, including some nights and weekends

Eligible for overtime pay

Application Instructions:

Please submit applications using this Airtable form.

Please upload one PDF document named "First Name Last Name – Application Materials – Brooklyn" containing, in the following order:

(1) cover letter; and

(2) resume.

Your cover letter should address your interest in working specifically at a public defender's office. Please include any interest in relevant criminal justice issues, examples of experiences working with court-involved and/or marginalized populations.

Please include any language and technical skills.

As of now, we expect all interviews will be conducted via Zoom, but this is subject to change.

Anticipated Application Timeline:

Application Deadline: 11:59pm, January 3, 2021

Notifications for 1st round interviews: Week of January 11, 2021

Notifications for 2nd round interviews: Week of February 1, 2021

Hiring decisions: Week of March 1, 2021

Because of the volume of applications we typically receive, we will respond only to those invited for an interview.